The mission of VCDR is to advance the human and civil rights of people with disabilities to ensure full and equal participation in all aspects of community life and the political process.


VCDR Legislative 2011 End of Session Report

The Vermont Legislature adjourned the 2011 Legislative session Friday May 6th. This is the first legislative session, under the new administration of Governor Peter Shumlin.


Budget Summary

VCDR members, other advocates, and many members of the disability community spent time at the statehouse testifying in the House and Senate Appropriation Committees, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and the House Human Services Committee on budgetary issues, telling their stories about the  the impact of budget cuts on people’s lives in Vermont.

The 2011 session began with a $176 million budget gap for fiscal year 2012.  The legislature closed the gap through $88 million in cuts, $60 million in one-time funding transfers, $24 million in new taxes and
$9 million in new revenues. About $4 million of one-time money was put into the Agency of Human Services caseload reserve fund.

The Governor had proposed over $43.8 million in cuts to Human Services in his budget in January. Once again this year, Human Services funding in Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities were targeted, and Choices for Care options were being threatened.

In the end, the legislature restored half the proposed reduction to Developmentally Disability services and Mental Health services. They restored 60% of the proposed reduction to services for frail and elderly; instrumental activities of daily living and respite and companion services, and provided for carry forward funding (expected in savings) to fully fund these programs.

Overall the legislature scaled back the Human Services proposed cuts from $43.8 million to $38.7 adding back $5.1 million in state spending.  That change will bring in $5.1 million in additional net federal funds. This is the fourth budget year in succession that Vermont has made significant cuts to Human Service programs.

Language in the Appropriation bill looks at the consequences of the budget reductions and directs the administration to minimize impact and search for cost saving measures in Choices for Care and other programs. (See selected budget numbers and language below)


Policy and Legislation Summary

VCDR was successful introducing, moving forward or passing a number of pieces of legislation in our 2011 Platform and weighing in on other bills of interest to the disability community, by testifying in a number of legislative committees, speaking to the press, meeting with legislators, and working with the administration.

VCDR supported "Respectful Language" and "Palliative Care" Legislation that passed; a version of the Sports/Concussion legislation was added to an education bill that passed; the "Work Incentives" Medicaid for Working Persons with Disabilities legislation that was introduced will be partially implemented by departments and an examination of information may require additional legislation to complete next session. Legislation that VCDR opposed, "Involuntary Medication" and "Physician Assisted Suicide", did not move forward this year, but are expected to be up for discussion again next year.

Other testimony and items of interest that VCDR members and other Disability advocates spoke about during the session included the above legislation and “Adult Protective Services”, “Choices for Care”, “Children’s Integrated Services”, Education Policy, Autism, Health Care, Hearing Aids, transportation, and other issues.

Organizations testifying included: Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights (VCDR), Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL), the
Vermont Family Network (VTFN), Green Mountain Self Advocates (GMSA), Disability Rights Vermont (DRVT), the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council (VDDC), Vermont Legal Aid (VLA), and the Brain Injury Association of Vermont among others.


Disability Awareness Day

VCDR and the Developmental Disabilities Council held a very successful Disability Awareness Day at the Legislature this year with hundreds of people with disabilities and friends from all corners of state coming to the statehouse to tell their stories and meet with legislators and their leaders. Many testified in committees on issues of interest, participated in workshops, and spoke to legislators, throughout the day. Folks were informed with the showing of the film “Wretches & Jabberers” and entertained at dinner with the stars Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette.

More on Disability Awareness Day


Next Session

There were few opportunities this legislative year to pursue any increases in funding, or new programs. Discussions about “what is working and what is not” were put on hold as the new administration got started, made personnel changes and presented a “balanced” budget that dealt with the budget gap with reductions and without raising significant revenues.

Many challenges lay ahead as the consequences of budget reductions take effect, healthcare reform progresses, and federal budget reductions are expected to widen the State’s budget deficit next year.

Below (in body of the report) is a summary of VCDR activities at the 2011 Vermont Legislature this session; the Budget and Policy interest that we followed on behalf of the disability community in Vermont.

Questions? Concerns? Please Contact:
VCDR President, Ed Paquin:

VCDR Legislative Advocate, Karen Lafayette:

Please Let us know about Budget or Policy issues that arise during the "off" session.


Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

The 2012 Budget Bill Act 63 (H.441)

Below is a summary of the Highlights of the FY 2012 Appropriations Bill (Budget) that passed this legislative session and links to budget documents.

Link to H.441 as passed:   

This “Annotated” version of the Budget document (below) shows the Governors proposed budget the House Actions and the Senate actions and the Committee of Conference Actions of the Budget: Human Services, pages 22-35:

Other documents about the budget can be found on the State Legislative website under the Joint Fiscal site. :  


Selected Budget Highlights

The individual department budgets listed here detail the FY 2010 actual budget and the FY 2011 budget after the 2011 budget adjustment (BAA) and include state and federal monies in total. The governor’s recommended budgets are listed for FY 2012 (in red) and the FY 2012 budget as passed.

All numbers that indicate the governor’s proposed reductions in the individual programs listed and the legislature’s final actions are generally state dollars that may include Global Commitment (GC) funds (state and federal dollars) unless specified, General Fund (GF). General fund reductions do not necessarily indicate the total reduction (impact) if some of these funds have a federal match.

Even though the budgets might show growth over the years in some departments; that does not (necessarily) reflect that the increased needs in those departments or programs have been addressed. In most cases level funding or limited growth indicate the increases have not been covered, and reductions (cuts) have been implemented.

Mental Health and Developmental Services

Mental Health and Developmental Services -The Governor had proposed a 5% reduction in Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services. The 2012 Budget restores 50% of that funding.

Department of Aging and Independent (DAIL)

Developmental Services Budget

FY 2010 Department Actual Budget: $ 144,910,936

FY 2011 Department Budget: $ 148,619,145 (After BAA)

FY 2012 Governor’s Recommended Budget: $148,441.048

FY 2012 as passed: $ 152,288,227 (FY09-12 – 4.1% growth)

In the DAIL Developmental Services Budget - $8,799,317, (This includes $1.1 million in the FY 2011 Budget Adjustment, BAA) is in increases in general caseload, high school graduates, and Public Safety expected. The proposed reductions ($7,755,435) – less than level funding - would have required the department to “absorb” these increases)

Governor’s Proposed Reductions in Developmental Disability Services in FY 2012: ($7,694,358 GC)

Legislature Restored: $3,847,179 (50%) Final Cut: $3,847,179 

Department of Mental Health (DMH) Budget

FY 2010 Department Actual Budget: $ 135,543,484

FY 2011 Department Budget: $133,998,246

FY 2012 Governor’s Recommended Budget: $129,332,385

FY 2012 as passed: $130,973,573 (FY09-12- 0.3% growth)

Governor’s Proposed Reduction in Mental Health (Designated Agencies): ($3,282,375 GC) Legislature Restores: $1,641,118 (50%) Final Cut: $1,641,118

Language in the Budget that addresses the above reductions in Developmental Services: Sec. E.333 Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living – Developmental Services "Providers shall include developmental service program participants indecisions regarding changes in their service plans."

Department of Health Access (DVHA) Long Term Care Budget

Including Choices for Care - Managed by DAIL

FY 2010 Department Actual Budget: $199,235,074

FY 2011 DVHA Budget: $ 208,890,248 (Includes FY 2011 BAA)

FY 2012 Governor’s Recommended Budget: $202,742,736

FY 2012 as Passed: $205,491,171 (FY09-12 – 0.5 % growth)

(The above budget numbers includes other funding in addition to the Choices for Care managed in DAIL)

Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living - Respite And Companion Services

It is expected that the Choices for Care program to have "carry forward" savings of up to 10 Million dollars and that a full restoration of these services will be possible and language in the appropriations bill allows for that restoration.

Governor’s Proposed Reduction (IADL) Respite: ($1,042,948- GF + $1,527,504 FF) (Would have reduced hours from 4.5 per week to 2hrs per week) Legislature Restored;

Governor’s Proposed Reduction (IADL) Companion Services: ($1,112,496 GF + $1,432,012 FF) (Would have reduced respite & companion Services from 720 hrs. a year to 360 hours per year).

Total Reduction (impact) proposed (GF &FF): ($5,114,960)

The Legislature restored: $1,292,995 GF + $1,775,709 FF in the above "Elderly" IADL Respite and Companion Services. Services. This represents a 60% "restoration", with the expectation the program will be fully funded.

DAIL "Proposed" 2012 Budget:  

VT Digger Article about Choices for Care:

Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) – Advocacy and Independent Living Grants

FY 2011 Department Actual Budget: $ 22,414,574

FY 2011 Department Base Appropriation: $22,233,616

FY 2012 Governor’s Proposed Budget: $20,183,729

FY 2012 Budget as passed: $20,538,891 (FY09-12 -1.9% Reduction)

IADL Attendant Care Services Program–Medicaid PDAC

This reduction follows a proposed reduction for Choices for Care. ASP participants will receive reduced assistance with household tasks such as help with shopping and housework. Governor’s Proposed Reduction: ($330,323 GC) Legislature Restored: $165,162 Final Cut: ($165,162)

Non-Medicaid PDAC (Participant Directed Attendant Care)

Although this list of applicant is considered frozen there are 4 additional slots in the base funding appropriated and 2 additional slots for “new” applicants for these personal assistance needs.

Governor’s Proposed Reduction: “Freeze the list” (Listed was a “savings” or reduction of ($1,000,000 GF)

The Legislature added 2 new slots to the 4 slots (Total 6 new slots) available in the base funding: $40,000 additional General state funds.

This represents a 6% increase in FY12. (This amount of added slots is "expected" to cover the need)

Area Agencies on Aging - Triple "A"s

Funds are used by the AAAs to support a variety of services including case management, information/referral/assistance, home delivered meals and congregate meals and family caregiver support services

Governor’s proposed Cut: ($200,000 GF) Final Cut: $150,000

Legislature restored: $50,000 for nutrition/meals.

Autism Insurance Language

The date for implementation of this coverage for autism spectrum disorders passed last year was changed to a later date. The language section addresses the Administration’s concerns about implementing the insurance coverage mandate for autism services to children ages 18 months to 6 years. Final – The section of the bill delays coverage by private insurers to October 1st, 2011 and for Medicaid to July 1st of 2012

Article about Autism "Mandate" in Vermont Digger:

Children’s Palliative and Curative Care

The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) will apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver that would allow Vermont Medicaid programs to provide concurrent palliative and curative care.  The DVHA proposal goes further than the federal reform. Under this proposal, children with life limiting illnesses who are not expected to live until adulthood could receive palliative care without stopping curative Medicaid services.

Student Assistant Professionals in Health Drug Abuse programs

The Administration had recommended total elimination of SAPs: ($1,276,578 -GF) Final Reduction ($638,289)

Final- The Legislature restored 50% of SAPs: $638,289

Adult Day

Redirects allocated funding in Choice for Care in DVHA $100,000 that the adult days could not utilize to the Department of Advocacy and Independent Living where it can be accessed by the Adult Days providers.

Catamount Health

The budget bill reduces reimbursement to providers by 9% in order to save ($5 million) dollars for the Catamount Health Program.

Language from the budget bill about HUMAN SERVICES Programs:

Sec. E.300 Agency of human services – secretary’s office The secretary of human services and the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living are authorized to set the level for IADLs and respite/companion services within the Choices for Care program that is consistent both with the funding provided in this act and with what the commissioner determines will to the greatest extent possible minimize individuals from moving from his or her home to a nursing home, including the utilization of variances where the commissioner determines appropriate.

Prior to reducing the level for these services from the current baseline, the secretary and the commissioner shall review actual fiscal year 2011 Choices for Care expenditures to determine if fiscal year 2012 funding in context with actual expenditure experience of fiscal year 2011 would require a reduction in the baseline. The secretary and the commissioner shall provide a report to the joint fiscal committee in July 2011 on the fiscal year 2012 levels for IADLs and respite/companion services as well as total actual expenditures of the Choices for Care waiver for fiscal year 2011. To the extent that fiscal year 2011 carry forward resources in the Choices for Care waiver are available to meet the determined IADL and respite needs in fiscal year 2012, the commissioner of finance and management after consultation with the secretary and commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living is authorized to transfer up to $1,340,000 of fiscal year 2012 state funds appropriated for the waiver to the human services caseload reserve.

The secretary and the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living shall provide a report to the joint fiscal committee in November 2011 on the status of the federal Money Follows the Person grant and how any state savings resulting from the grant will be used to strengthen the home and community-based services that allow eligible Vermonters to remain in their homes as well as the financial impact the grant may have on Vermont nursing homes.

(b) The secretary of human services, the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living, the commissioner of mental health, and the designated providers of mental health and developmental disability services shall continue to work in partnership to ensure that to the greatest extent possible any negative impact to consumers of these services as a result of the funding levels provided for in this act is minimized. The secretary is encouraged to seek changes to the current regulatory or statutory provisions regarding these services if such changes result in a more cost-effective provision of high-quality services for Vermonters.

(c) The commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living shall report to the house and senate committees on appropriations, the house committee on human services, and the senate committee on health and welfare by January 15, 2012 with recommendations regarding the scope of providers that the department may contract with to provide services under the Choices for Care program. The recommendations shall be made in consultation with home health agencies and other partner organizations and shall consider, among other things: the relative impacts on provider cost structure of state assessments and requirements; whether a lack of access by patients to the services justifies expanding the scope of providers; whether contracting with additional providers will affect the ability of patients to access Choices for Care services; and whether Choices for Care services should be removed from being considered “designated” services.

(d) The secretary in consultation with the department of health access and the department of health shall report to the joint fiscal committee in September2011 on the existing programs and scope of services including case management services available to pregnant women identified as high-risk. This shall include the resources available within state funded programs as well as other programs serving this population. The secretary shall include recommendations in the report for steps that may be taken to better coordinate services and reduce the potential for negative outcomes and higher costs related to these cases. The secretary is authorized to implement these recommendations provided they will result in more cost-effective service and are net budget neutral.

Purpose of language from the Joint Fiscal Office:

The intent of this language is to prevent that needed services are not reduced if FY11 actual expenditures are below budget in total for the Choices for Care program. Currently the budget tracking indicates expenditures are below target, likely freeing up resources that will be available in FY12 to maintain needed services. At the same time, the language allows flexibility so that the right level of services can be allocated based on individual case assessments. The language also requires a report on the status of a new federal grant that is anticipated to result in savings that can be redirected within the program.


Policy Legislation Passed

Respectful Language Act 24 (S.90) - VCDR Platform

The "Respectful Language" bill was signed into law by the Governor at a ceremony on May 11th of this year. The bill creates a working "study" group to identify words that should not be used in Vermont statutes and regulations, and suggest words that reflect a positive view of people with disabilities. The committee membership includes members from the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, the Vermont Center for Independent Living, Vermont Psychiatric Survivors and others. The report is due to go to the legislature by November 1st. GMSA took the lead on testifying and promoting this legislation.

Vermont Digger Article on "Respectful Language": 

WPTZ (Channel 5) coverage with Video of signing of the "Respectful Language" bill on May 11th:

Vermont Public Radio Coverage of Respectful Language:

Non-Driver ID notification in Act 46 (S.94) Miscellaneous amendments to the Motor Vehicles – VCDR Support

This bill contains the House amendment to instruct motor vehicles to send out first class mail notices 30 days in advance for non-driver ID renewals Section 18 of the bill. S.94 as Passed:  

Student Athletes and Concussions Bill – VCDR Platform

H.46 as introduced passed the House but not the Senate and was added to S.100 with changes in conference.

S.100 is an act relating to making miscellaneous amendments to education laws - Act 58

This legislation includes language changes to the state’s Special Education Advisory Council. The H.46 amendment to the education bill puts in place some safety precautions for schools when there is concerns about youth athlete suffering or suspected to be suffering from a concussion or other head injury. The bill prohibits a coach from allowing a student that was removed from a sports activity because of a concussion from being able to participate again until he or she has been examined by a health profession and receives written permission. It includes development of guidelines and training requirements.

Act 58 (S100) as passed – H.46 on page 42 of the bill:

H.46 as passed by House:

Palliative Care - Act 60 (H.201) An act relating to hospice and palliative care – VCDR Platform

The palliative care legislation was signed into law on June 1, 2011 by the governor in a ceremony at the Vermont Statehouse. The law was initially based on the recommendations from the Palliative Care and Pain Management Task Force which was formed from Act 50, or the 2009 Palliative Care Bill. The Vermont Center for Independent Living is a member of that task force.

The legislation focuses on further provisions for palliative care, pain management and end of life care. It addresses expanded hospice, insurance coverage, application to Choices for Care, Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNR), license renewal and medical education.

Challenges for Change Outcomes Act 2 (H.1) - VCDR Platform

This bill is a restatement of outcomes for individuals with disabilities, mental health needs or substance abuse, addresses in last year’s Challenges for Change legislation

As passed:

Transporting Patients with Mental Illness Act 19 (H.427) – VCDR Support

An act relating to extending the state’s reporting concerning transportation of children in state custody and transportation of individuals in the custody of the commissioner of mental health. This bill extends the deadline to collect the data about the transportation of individuals with mental health concerns.

As Passed:  

Complete Streets Act 34 (H.198) An act relating to a transportation policy that considers all users – VCDR Support

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that the needs of all users of Vermont’s transportation system—including motorists, bicyclists, public transportation users, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities—are considered in all state and municipally managed transportation projects and project phases, including planning, development, construction, and maintenance, except in the case of projects or project components involving unpaved highways.

H.198 as Passed:   

Health Care Professional Regulation (Hearing Aid Dispensaries) Act 66 (H.420) An act relating to the office of professional regulation - VCDR Support

Section 10a of this legislation amends the profession regulation law and puts a member of the public who is individual with significant hearing impairment and who uses a hearing aid regularly, to sit on the advisory panel for hearing dispensaries.

As Passed: 

Transportation Bill – Change in Disability Parking Act 62 (H.443) VCDR Oppose

This legislation includes a change in policy in parking for people with disabilities in municipal and state parking facilities that VCDR does not support. The legislation “clarifies” the law pertaining to the length of time that allows for 10 days “free” parking, but also reduces the time from 10 days to “24 continuous hours” in state and municipal operated parking garage facilities (including Airports). Legislators on the House side are willing to review this change in policy next session as the amendment (to reduce the number of days) was presented late in the process and changed - with little formal discussion.

Parking language on pages 43 and 43:  

Universal and Unified Health System - Act 48 (H.202) VCDR Support - Monitor

This bill sets up the process to ensure universal access to and coverage to all Vermonters. It is the intent of the general assembly to create Green Mountain Care to contain costs and to provide, as a public good, comprehensive, affordable, high-quality, publicly financed health care coverage for all Vermont residents in a seamless manner regardless of income, assets, health status, or availability of other health coverage. It is the intent of the general assembly to achieve health care reform through the coordinated efforts of an independent board, state government, and the citizens of Vermont, with input from health care professionals, businesses, and members of the public.  

H.202 as passed: 


Passed House

H.290 Adult Protective Services – VCDR Support

This bill proposes to require the secretary of human services to adopt rules governing the implementation of the statutory responsibilities of the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living, division of licensing and protection, with respect to adult protective services.

As Passed by the House: 


Bills Introduced In Committee Accomplished By Other Means

H.422/S.89 Medicaid for Working Persons with Disabilities "Work Incentives" – VCDR Platform

TO be implemented by the department of interest.

This bill proposes to promote work incentives and increase the stability of health coverage for individuals receiving Medicaid for working Persons with Disabilities and to make it easier for these individuals and eligible spouses to receive additional services.

The MWPD bills were introduced in the House and the Senate late in the session due to a lost drafting request. VCDR worked with SILC members of the administration and legislators to accomplish some of the legislation goals through the summer and fall and proceed with subsequent legislation if necessary next year.

The Administration has agreed to proceed with plans to implement some sections of the legislation as introduced. “Point people" have been assigned within DVHA, DCF and DAIL to deal with the various aspects of MWPD changes entailed in the legislation. A grant request has been completed, asking for funds to hire a subcontractor to do the cost analyses and write the Medicaid Waiver requests entailed in the legislation.

In addition, the prospective grant would also entail exploration of work incentive aspects within the Affordable Health Care Act, dual eligible waiver and other.

Bill as Introduced:  

H.204 Positive Behavioral Intervention/Prohibition of Restraint and Seclusion - Accomplished by Rule – VCDR Platform

This bill proposed to promote positive behavioral  intervention and supports in schools, reduce the use of physical restraint, and  prohibit the use of mechanical, chemical, and prone physical restraint and seclusion as methods of addressing challenging student behavior.

Testimony was taken last year in House Education and the Chair of the committee urged the Department of Education and Advocates to pursue adoption of rules. Legislation was introduced again this year while rules were still being proposed.

RULES Adopted: The "new" RULES have now been adopted by the Department of Education and will be in effect in August of this Year. VCDR and other advocates have worked on this issue and have introduced legislation over the years to achieve the desired policy in schools throughout the state.

VCDR supports a many of the new rules as an improvement from the current lack of consistent policies throughout the state and specific interventions cited. The rules however still allow for the continued use of harmful restraints in certain situations that VCDR would prefer be prohibited.

Link to RULE on Restrictive Behavior:

Seven Days VT about Restrictive Behavior – VT Schools:   


Bills Introduced - VCDR Generated- Not Acted On This Year

H.308 PKU - Insurance coverage from Medically necessary supplements- VCDR Platform

This bill proposes to require health insurance coverage for medically necessary supplements and modified foods for individuals with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria.

H.308 as introduced: 

H. 235 Van Modification - Grants to make Vehicles Wheelchair Accessible – VCDR Platform

This bill proposes to authorize the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living to award grants to persons with disabilities for the purpose of providing financial assistance for expenses related to making a motor vehicle wheelchair-accessible.

H.235 as Introduced: 

H.205 Transportation of patients with Mental Health Issues – VCDR Platform                                             

Subject: Health care; mental health; transportation; restraints Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to provide additional protections for psychiatric patients requiring transportation with physical restraints

H.205 as Introduced:


Legislation Introduced that VCDR opposes

H.274 Physician Assisted Suicide legislation NOT Passed Patient Choices – End of Life Control - VCDR Opposed

This bill proposes to allow, subject to appropriate safeguards, a mentally competent person diagnosed as having less than six months to live to request a prescription which, if taken, would hasten the dying process.

H.274  as Introduced:  

Excerpt from Mary Claire Carroll:

The legislation would allow a patient with capacity who has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal condition and who has voluntarily expressed a wish to hasten the dying process may request medication to be self-administered for the purpose of hastening his or her death in accordance with this chapter.

During the session Patient Choices Vermont held a press conference and during March.  VCIL responded to the press conference with interviews on at least 5 or more news outlets.  Patient Choices also held forums throughout the state on the issue of what they called death with dignity. Several organizations, including the Human Rights Commission held debates on the issue. Newspapers were full of editorials and letters both pro and con. VCIL is taking the lead on the issue and VCDR advocates are following the issue, speaking with legislators, commenting to the press and issuing information.

Interview with Ed Paquin in the St. Albans Messenger on Physician Assisted Suicide:

S.88 Involuntary Medication - VCDR OPPOSES – NOT Passed

This bill proposes to make hearings for involuntary hospitalization and medication concurrent, broaden who can petition for involuntary medication, and ensure involuntary medication can occur at hospitals other than the Vermont State Hospital.

S.88 as Introduced:  

VCDR, Vermont Legal Aid and other advocates testified against this bill in Senate Health and Welfare introduced again this year

Taping testimony in Senate Health and Welfare: Under the Dome: The Capitol Beat - Senate Health & Welfare on S.88 - Involuntary Medicines (via CCTV):

Submitted by Karen Lafayette, VCDR Legislative Liaison